Top Fifty Players Of 2008

As a conclusion to the series on the most productive players at each position, I'm going to run down the Top Fifty among all positions.  Speaking of those positional articles:

1B | 2B | SS | 3B | DH | LF | CF | RF | CA

As a reminder, I'm using Justin's Stats, which, in my opinion, are the best publicly available total value player ratings.  Better than VORP.  Better than Win Shares.  Significantly better than WARP.  The highlights include:

  • BaseRuns-derived offensive linear weights, with park adjustments.
  • League-adjusted replacement-level, since AL pitching is stronger than NL pitching.
  • Proper position adjustments using the CA - SS - 2B/3B/CF - LF/RF - 1B - DH spectrum.
  • Combined STATS and BIS zone ratings converted to runs to measure fielding.

There are some people who have reservations about the fielding ratings.  I agree that the current state of fielding metrics is less than ideal, but let's not pretend that they're even close to worthless.  However, if you prefer to use your own fielding ratings (personal judgment, Pinto's PMR, Dewan's +/-, or whatever), Justin's stats are still valuable to you.  Focus on the offensive values and the positional adjustments, which combine to form a VORP-like number, only better.  Why better?  Because they include league-adjustments, don't undervalue walks, and make position adjustments based on the defensive spectrum instead of offensive averages.  Then you can add in your fielding rating of choice.

Rather than just post a table of the Top Fifty (well, Top Fifty-Two), I've divided the list into tiers and added some commentary.

The Almost All-Stars

These guys had very good seasons, but probably wouldn't make their league's post-season All-Star team without positional scarcity needs.  How many of your friends would be surprised that Christian Guzman and BJ Upton were as valuable as Ichiro Suzuki and Carlos Quentin.

Rank Player Off Pos Field Total
52 Alex I Rios 31 -3 7 35
51 Marco Scutaro 11 3 21 35
50 Mike A Aviles 25 4 6 35
49 Milton Bradley 50 -11 -4 36
48 Cristian Guzman 27 6 3 36
47 Torii Hunter 33 2 1 36
46 Andre E Ethier 45 -6 -3 36
45 B.J. Upton 36 2 -2 37
44 Carlos J Quentin 52 -6 -9 37
43 Carlos Pena 44 -10 4 37
42 Joey D Votto 38 -11 10 37
41 Ichiro Suzuki 39 -3 2 38
40 Troy Glaus 39 2 -3 38
39 Randy Winn 33 -6 11 38

Two Big Bats and Eight Good Gloves

Seeing Geovany Soto and Aubrey Huff listed right next to each other is a great example of why defense matters.  And seeing Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino three spots away from each other is a great  reminder of why the Phillies won the World Series.

Rank Player Off Pos Field Total
38 J.J. Hardy 26 7 6 39
37 Shane Victorino 30 2 8 40
36 Ian M Kinsler 45 2 -6 40
35 Russell N Martin 30 11 0 41
34 Jayson Werth 32 -3 12 41
33 Placido Polanco 27 2 12 41
32 Aramis Ramirez 43 2 -4 41
31 Johnny Damon 46 -3 -1 42
30 Aubrey Huff 56 -14 1 42
29 Geovany Soto 31 10 2 43

The Cornerstones

With thirty MLB teams, you can think of the top thirty position players as the guys GMs would pick first in the ultimate sandlot game.  Notice that we've reached the point where nearly everyone is above average on both offense and defense.

Rank Player Off Pos Field Total
28 Dan C Uggla 41 2 2 45
27 Ryan J Braun 43 -7 9 45
26 Evan Longoria 36 2 8 46
25 Nick Markakis 59 -7 -4 48
24 Jimmy Rollins 30 6 11 48
23 Kevin E Youkilis 54 -8 4 50
22 Brian M McCann 42 10 -1 50
21 Ryan Ludwick 57 -6 -1 51
20 Josh H Hamilton 51 0 0 51
19 Curtis Granderson 47 2 3 51
18 Jose Reyes 51 7 -7 52
17 Adrian Beltre 28 2 24 53
16 Matt T Holliday 52 -6 8 54

The Down-Ballot MVP Picks

If there was an MVP handed out to all of Major League Baseball, these are the guys who would garner some votes from the BBWAA wackos, but wouldn't actually deserve them.  Of course, they deserve pretty much all other praise we can heap upon them.

Rank Player Off Pos Field Total
15 Brian Giles 49 -7 13 56
14 Manny Ramirez 73 -5 -14 56
13 Brian Roberts 50 2 6 59
12 Joe Mauer 44 10 7 61
11 Dustin L Pedroia 50 2 9 61

The Modern Baseball Idols

Nobody in this year's top ten was a one-year wonder -- all have multiple All-Star caliber seasons under their belts.  These are the players we will eventually debate for entry into the Hall of Fame and the players we will tell our children about.   Notice everyone to rate this high had positive defensive value, and most were ten runs above average.  On the offensive side, the least productive hitters were still five wins better than replacement with the bat.

Rank Player Off Pos Field Total
10 Carlos Beltran 53 2 11 66
9 David A Wright 62 3 2 67
8 Alex Rodriguez 60 2 7 69
7 Lance Berkman 68 -11 17 74
6 Mark Teixeira 65 -12 21 74
5 Grady Sizemore 64 2 9 76
4 Chase Utley 53 2 21 76
3 Hanley Ramirez 69 7 3 79
2 Chipper Jones 66 2 14 81

The Tier Before The Albert Pujols Tier

The Albert Pujols Tier

Scroll back up to The Cornerstones Tier.  Pick two of those players.  Together, they were as valuable as one Albert Pujols.  To think that he might not win the BBWAA's MVP award and that he didn't win the Hank Aaron award is a travesty.  Would Lou Gehrig have received this treatment if he were playing today?  A 10 WAR season is worth about $45MM on the current free agent pay scale, by the way.

Rank Player Off Pos Field Total
1 Albert Pujols 89 -11 20 98
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